Over the course of the past 60 years, there was one person who indisputably was the most famous man on the planet — and that person was Pele.
Even those who knew nothing about soccer — or any other sport — still recognized his name in all four corners of the globe.
Pele revolutionized not only the game of soccer with his speed, finesse, power, and skill, but also the sports world in general. He became the first global superstar and elevated athletic competition into the realm of the international arena more than any person ever has.
It is because of Pele that more American children — boys and girls — play soccer today than any other sport in our country.
But what truly made Pele great was his incredible humility. He became an international star at the age of 17 when he led Brazil to the first of three World Cups in 1958, but throughout his long life, he never forgot his roots in the impoverished favela of his hometown of Santos, where he learned his soccer skills on the streets.
Pele served as an ambassador both for his country and the world of sports for decades, radiating his warm smile and joy wherever he went.
Pele was a beautiful man who played the beautiful game as no one ever has, both on and off the pitch. He will be missed.